While global concerns over climate change conjure images
of melting ice caps, submerged cities and massive droughts, some Russian experts
are hailing global warming as the answer to
As the long and dreary Russian winters become balmier, billions of dollars will be saved on heating and there will be fewer cases of depression, says Vladimir Klimenko, a professor at the Moscow Energy Institute, whose lab is funded by the state-run oil and gas company.
Agriculture, ravaged by the cold and 70 years of Soviet
collectivization, will blossom, and watermelons could grow in
In the land of frozen tundra and winters that drag on into June, politicians and scientists are welcoming climate change as a panacea, not a harbinger of environmental apocalypse.
"For our great northern country, I don't today see
any imminent problems for the next 100 years at least," said Konstantin Pulikovsky, who heads
The upbeat assessment comes as
Critics, however, say the "good for
"Because of drought, we'll lose a major part of the
most productive soil of
Melting permafrost could destroy Russian cities situated
Meanwhile, the Russian parliament is debating whether global warming exists.
"I read an article by a group of scientists who I know and respect, and they say there won't be a warming, but prove there'll be a cooling," said Pyotr Romanov, a Communist Party deputy.
Some economists predict that summer tourism will
Klimenko, who runs a 10-person lab
partly funded by state-owned gas behemoth Gazprom,
predicts a temperature increase in central
There could be winter energy savings of 10 percent to 15 percent, translating into around $17 billion a year, he said.
And navigation may become possible on the rivers
Russians are not convinced.
In an April survey of 1,600 people by Russian state
polling agency VTsIOM, 18 percent said they thought
climate change would benefit